Once upon a time, I had no idea airport lounges even existed. I thought everyone lugged themselves into airports and sat either at the food court or the gate, waiting for their flight to take off. Then, I got access to the United lounge in LA, and I thought it was pretty underwhelming. Other than getting access to the lounge Wi-Fi, having outlets, and maybe some of their subpar trail and nut mixes and snacks, I didn’t understand why anyone would pay to get access to the United lounge (eww). But what finally did me in was when Chris first took me into the British Airways lounge at JFK on my first flight headed to Australia, and I was sold: a huge fountain awaited me as I entered, and the food and drink was ridiculous. It was like being in a true “lounge” where you had access to endless food, booze, and comfort.
I have since been in a number of incredible lounges run by Qantas, Japan Airlines, and Cathay Pacific. But nothing could really prepare me for the vastness that was the Al Mourjan Business Lounge (South) at Hamad International Airport during our layover in Doha en route to Kochi. First, there was a north side AND a south side lounge. Second, the space was just endless: a smoking/cigar room; a massive business center; a children’s playroom with huge bouncy castles and endless toys; multiple dedicated baby changing rooms that were HUGE and pristine, cleaned after each use – they even supply diapers, diaper cream, baby lotion, and wipes on request; a family center where you could spend time with your family and not worry about making other people mad due to children’s noise; quiet rooms that can be reserved for up to six hours at a time, essentially mini hotel rooms, to sleep in total silence and privacy; full bathrooms and showers that can be booked and will be cleaned before and after each use. And as for food options, there is also full-service dining and a buffet, multiple baristas for freshly made coffee beverages; a made-to-order sushi and sandwich counter, and endless rotating desserts, both western and Middle Eastern style.
And that still doesn’t cover everything if you can believe it! Right now, a Dior spa is in construction for the north side lounge, and a gym is also in progress so that you can fit in a workout ahead of your flight. There’s also a pay-per-item Louis Vuitton restaurant inside the north lounge. A number of different seats, couches, and lounge arrangements were everywhere. Kaia really loved all the different water fixtures, especially the fountain that had jumping water. She also loved that she could run around freely on a wide, open floor plan.
I think what really stood out to me was how family friendly the entire place was. Here, you’d never have to worry about your children being taken care of and not having them seen as a nuisance or annoyance. Here, children are accepted as part of the overall energy and life of the lounge; they aren’t inconveniences. There are endless places to change your baby’s diapers and ensure your own comfort as a parent. People even go out of their way to ask if your baby is comfortable or needs anything else. In fact, on the Qatar flights, Kaia always was treated like a VIP passenger; the flight attendants always asked if I needed anything additional, whether it was food or drink or blankets or bottles, for her. Kaia even got a diaper/change kit that was reusable with Qatar Airways’ branding. Qatar always has baby food (pouches) on all flights, unlike on American Airlines, where you have to specifically request baby food, and then follow up a number of times to ensure that it even got onto your plane. Honestly, that AA experience was just laughable in comparison, especially given then, we also flew business class and they wanted to starve my baby. If only the U.S. could be a bit more like this was.